Baron's Jigsaw Puzzle
Baron Bodissey at Gates of Vienna has an essay attempting to fit together all the publicly observable pieces of the Islamist phenomenon. What distinguishes Baron's building blocks is that they are not constructed from pre-existing diplomatic or ideological paradigms, but made up the way an ordinary person might from first principles. To the question where do all the mujahedeen who attack the West come from, Baron answers in two ways: this is the paymaster and these are the henchmen. First, who is the paymaster?
To start with, there’s the explosion of Salafist funding. Thanks to the price of oil and the nefariously corrupt regime in Saudi Arabia, the Great Islamic Jihad devours a surfeit of resources the likes of which have not been seen for five hundred years or more. It’s no longer necessary to breach the walls of Constantinople and loot the cathedral, or send pirates out on a razzia to plunder wealthy merchant vessels: all the Saudis have to do is hire infidels to drill for the black goo and then sell it to other infidels. The proceeds from this lucrative racket have been plowed back into Sunni jihad activities across the globe, always disguised as “charity”.
So this is what pays for operations, but whence the cannon fodder to carry them out? All these disparate and disconnected people, training to carry out violence and willing to die in the process — where do they come from?
Now, who are the henchmen?
The Great Jihad goes trolling for potential shahids among convicted felons, particularly in the prisons of the United States, Canada, Britain, and Australia. The enlightened rehabilitative regimes in these countries install Islamic chaplains for their inmates. These religious functionaries are selected and funded by Saudi missionary organizations. Not to be outdone by the Sunnis, Sheikh Gilani’s Jamaat ul-Fuqra has an extensive prison-recruitment operation. ...
But what about the non-cynical converts, the ones who really are willing to die for the cause? What about the true zealots like John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban”? Where do they come from? I had a friend in my college days who was attracted to radical politics. “Power to the People”, “Smash the State”, “Revolution Now” — it was always about sticking it to the Man, questioning authority, and resisting all instances of state power. Nowadays he’s studying the Koran and talking about the power of the Jews, and is seriously considering converting to Islam. ...
In the terms of Chaos Theory, Islam is a “basin attractor”, an asymptotic solution to all the differential equations of nihilistic human behavior. Any impulse that longs to destroy Western Civilization — which, for the modern world, means all civilization — will gravitate towards Islam. The criminal gets ideological justification for his behavior, the sadist gets to rape and murder to his heart’s content, and the hippie radical gets to stick it to the Man for all eternity.
In short, Baron argues that the paymaster is state church funded by oil revenues located in an "allied country". The henchmen are the alienated, even among themselves. Baron's last interrogative is this: "These are the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle called “The 21st Century”, scattered on the table and the floor around you. How might they appear when they’re finally assembled?" To which an honest answer might be, 'like nothing either the Democrats or the Republicans have described; like nothing taught in our most prestigious universities; like nothing likely to be discussed in a serious think-tank".
And that's because it's constructed of pieces that are too fundamental for public intellectuals to manipulate. They already have their notation. They've already have the objects with which they intend to solve the problem. These are multilateral diplomacy, Palestine, Israel, multiculturalism, weapons of mass destruction, sanctions, deterrence, to name a few. The stock-in-trade of men of the world. And from these they are going to construct tower after tower, buttress after buttress and approximate arcs by arbitarily large numbers of square pieces until ... And when these fall to the ground in piles the postmortem will always be what diplomatic misstep did we make? What nuance did we miss? What concession did we fail to give? What country did we fail to invade? And they will start over and over again.
That's not to say that Baron's analysis comprehensively describes the entire Islamist phenomenon or that statesmen have no valid insights; but his analysis goes to the human heart of the matter. Religion, nihilism, culture, crime. All subjects on which Islam has an opinion but of whose existence our public intellectuals have repeatedly expressed doubt. We have stopped thinking ourselves and our beliefs without embarrassment and shame. And for all our diplomacy and weaponry will never be ready to face those willing to die without seeing ourselves portrayed once again in human-sized building blocks; able once more to think in terms of enemies and friends and to set against the darkness, a flame.